If you have no time enough to explore the island, you must visit at least:
1. Sete Cidades - lakes and village inside this beautiful crater. This landscape is among the 7 natural wounders of Portugal.
2. Furnas - lake, hotsprings, private garden Terra Nostra (hot swimming pool).
3. Fogo - lake and Caldeira Velha (waterfall and hot swimming pool). In my opinion, Fogo lake is the most beautiful landscape of the Azores.
The Sao Miguel cattle dog.
The "Sao Miguel cattle dog", or the "cao fila de Sao Miguel" is a type of dog that originates from the Sao Miguel island.
It´s a working dog that has been bread to work as a cattle dog working for the farmers and it´s not really a family dog as it can be quite aggresive.
It´s one of the rare dogs of the world and there is quite a bit of work being done to make sure that the race continues to excist and they have even made a small statue of the dog on the outskirts of Vila Franca honoring the dog race aswell as the people who try to preserve it.
Seafood Lovers Paradise
The Azores are renowned for their fresh fish and seafood which you'll find almost everywhere, prepared simply and delicious. If you want to indulge in gastronomic delicacies, you can taste a variety of succulent dishes prepared by the traditional old recipes which are still very much alive in the islands.
There is a large variety of local fish, from small to medium-sized and huge ones. They include abrotea, white hake and cherne (wreck fish), all considered the best of the white fish. Tuna and espadarte (swordfish) mostly appear filleted and are the absolute winners among dark-flash fish. Especially delicious are the stews, caldeiradas de peixe, though fish can be also fried or grilled. Try also fried chicharros (horse mackerel).
It is quite usual to prepare bacalhau (codfish). There are 365 different recipes, one for each day of the year: bacalhau á braz (fried potatoes, small pieces of boiled cod mixed with scrambled eggs), bacalhau de natas (fried potatoes, small pieces of cod, olive oil-based bechamel sauce and cream on top) or bacalhau na chapa (a thick piece of cod baked in the oven with olive oil, onion, garlic and red pepper).
As for seafood, polvo guisado em vinho de cheiro (octopus cooked in the regional wine) is very popular and it tastes heavenly, as are lulas grelhadas (grilled squid).
But really unusual are cracas (barnacles), a shellfish typical of the Azores, though not so easy to found in the restaurants. Eaten as an appetiser, the tiny morsels are removed with a special hooked utensil from the shell that clings to a piece of rock.
Lapas (limpets) are another shellfish eaten in various ways, most commonly baked with garlic and lemon juice. Arroz de lapas (rice with limpets) is also popular, or lapas de molho Afonso (limpets with a tasty spicy sauce).
There is also cavaco, an endemic kind of crab, lagosta (lobster), camarões (shrimp) and caracóis (snails).
Deep Sea Fishing
This island offers excellent opportunities for anyone interested in big game fishing, e.g. catching a swordfish, blue-fin tuna, marlin etc. The best season is from July to late October. Here is a link where you can make a boat reservation.
Tea from the Azores
You can visit the Cha Gorreana tea plantation, see how tea leaves are processed and also buy some locally grown tea (black or green). The plantation was founded in 1883 and its one of the two plantations operating on S.Miguel island. It was very interesting to learn about the process: the picking, withering, rolling, fermentation, drying, selection and packing. A lot of the work is manually done and old equipment still being used.
I was especially pleased to hear that no insecticides or fungicides are used.